Riffs on Rifts
HIGH Francis Pritchard from Human Revolution returns.
LOW It’s awfully similar to a mission from Mankind Divided‘s main quest.
WTF Nothing says “infamous hacker trying to lay low” like white and ruby two-toned hair.
Eidos Montreal sure didn’t beat around the bush getting its first DLC episode out. Only a month after Deus Ex: Mankind Divided released, System Rift was available.
Because Deus Ex‘s city-hub setup doesn’t allow players to continue exploring Prague after main quest completion, DLC episodes are selected from the main menu. They drop gravel-voiced protagonist Adam Jensen into discrete scenarios with pre-set weapons and upgrade points in his inventory. Although this might not seem fair to players who busted their augmented butts upgrading Adam in the campaign, this is probably the best way to handle it.
System Rift features the return of a prominent character from 2011’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution — Francis Pritchard. Pritchard served as Head of IT for Sarif Industries, and was Jensen’s main mission handler in Human Revolution. Players might remember that Jensen and Pritchard didn’t exactly get along, and they weren’t shy about throwing sarcasm and insults back and forth. System Rift revisits that amusing banter, and Pritchard’s return brings some much-needed humor and personality to Mankind Divided after the campaign’s lack of memorable character moments.
When the story begins, Pritchard contacts Jensen and asks for his help in gathering information on Palisade Bank — a bank that prides itself on being the most secure in the world. As the DLC unfolds, it turns out Pritchard has more of a corporate espionage angle in mind, and Jensen must pull off a high-stakes heist to complete the mission.
In terms of structure, System Rift ends up being a bit middling. On one hand, its meaty heist is a little too similar to an existing mission from Mankind Divided‘s main story. On the other, it was my favorite mission from Mankind Divided because it brought a tense Mission Impossible-esque feel into play. System Rift has the same flavor.
Other pluses? It’s set in a completely new area apart from the main game, and this new Palisade Bank branch features some new twists. I won’t spoil them, but I will say that certain augmentations players might have depended on heavily are much less useful in some sections of the DLC. This presents a suitable challenge, but being the hardcore ghost player I am, I saved and reloaded an embarrassing number of times to achieve that perfect stealth run.
Players familiar with Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex games shouldn’t expect anything groundbreaking in System Rift. Each area has multiple ins and outs, there are optional side missions, a new city-hub slice is open to explore, and players can navigate the episode by lethal or non-lethal means. System Rift doesn’t offer much new except better characters and writing. Considering how dull those aspects were in the main campaign, I’m calling this an augmented step forward.
Disclosures: This downloadable content is developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix. It is currently available on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC. This copy of the DLC was obtained via paid download and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 10 hours of play were devoted to the DLC episode, and it was completed twice. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and contains blood, drug references, intense violence, partial nudity, sexual themes, strong language and use of alcohol. Although the System Rift DLC carries Mankind Divided‘s M rating, some of those descriptors aren’t present in this episode. Language, alcohol and drug references are here, but any violence or gore is dependent on how players approach the game. It’s possible to shoot and kill dozens of people, but sneaking around and causing no violence is also possible. I didn’t find any nudity or sexual elements in the DLC.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There’s a lot of visual feedback on screen, but given the openness of the levels and the game’s emphasis on stealth, keeping track of everything that’s happening without sound could be tricky. Also, heads up that the subtitle size is fairly small — most ambient conversations are not subtitled at all, and a lot of dialogue runs during gameplay, often while players may be focused on other things. It’s easy to miss.
Remappable Controls: The console versions offer four preset choices of control mapping, stick sensitivity sliders and y-axis inversion.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
He has a Bachelor’s in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri. He also has a personal blog (who doesn’t?) that he updates sporadically. He’s been writing for GameCritics.com since 2012 and has appeared on the podcast a handful of times.
If you want to dive deep, type his name into a Google Image search and you’ll most likely be treated to a scandalous picture of his Deus Ex tattoo. He also has a music background from 7 years on high school and college drumlines, and last but not least he’s dabbled in parkour. Don’t let those activities fool you about his ambition – he’s in his late 20s and still has no idea what he wants to do with his life.